Fatigued truck drivers endanger the lives of Florida motorists

The FMCSA revised their Hours of Service regulations in an attempt to reduce the number of people injured and killed in large truck accidents.

While Americans rely on large tractor-trailers to distribute essential goods across the country, these massive vehicles pose a serious threat to motorists. Large truck accidents caused the deaths of 3,802 people nationwide in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This fatality rate has steadily increased from 3,211 deaths in 2009. Florida alone lost 194 people to large truck collisions in 2012. Although there are several different causes of truck accidents in Florida and around the country, drowsy truck drivers have become a major cause for concern.

A look at drowsy truck drivers

There are several factors that may have contributed to the growing number of drowsy truck drivers filling the nation's highways. The U.S. has a major shortage of commercial truck drivers, according to the American Trucking Association. Currently, there are 35,000 trucker positions available, and that number is expected to increase substantially over the next decade. As the American economy continues to grow, the amount of freight that needs to be distributed is also expected to increase. In fact, the ATA reported that the trucking industry will need to hire at least 100,000 new truckers every year to keep up with the rise in freight.

With more freight to deliver and not enough truckers to distribute it, truck drivers and trucking companies are under a lot of pressure to manage their freight loads. Truck drivers must meet strict delivery deadlines, which may require them to drive long hours. Some trucking companies also schedule drivers to work overtime in order to move more freight. Yet, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has placed tight regulations on how long truckers can spend behind the wheel at any given time.

FMCSA's revised Hours of Service regulations

The FMCSA revised their Hours of Service regulations in order to decrease the number of large truck accidents, injuries and fatalities in the nation. Truckers who carry property loads:

  • Can drive for a maximum of 11 hours a day
  • Must break for at least one-half hour within the first eight hours of their shift
  • Can drive for a maximum of 70 hours a week
  • Must break for at least 34 consecutive hours after working a full 70-hour work week

Although the Hours of Service regulations include truck drivers carrying passengers, these truckers are only allowed to work for 10-hour periods before resting. This helps to limit truck driver fatigue.

The dangers of large truck accidents

Due to the sheer size and weight of commercial trucks, a tractor-trailer collision can be catastrophic for anyone involved. Some victims of large truck accidents may suffer from traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, broken bones, loss of limbs and even paralysis. Truckers and trucking companies should be held responsible for their negligence. A truck accident attorney in Florida may be able to help people receive compensation for their injuries following a serious collision involving a truck.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury